120 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: RFA Ending”

  1. It appears that RR C & D are through-routed such that the for RR D, replacing the 15/18, the first northbound stop will be on Seneca near 3rd, then at Pike St, and the last southbound stop on Columbia. The means the buses don’t serve the Municipal and County office area, Pioneer Square, international district and stadiums, and could suffer from any congestion on the West Seattle bridge and AWV construction. Seems like the 15 & 18 will feel superior to at least some riders.

    1. Yep. Even if they manage to be a few minutes faster (and I’m skeptical they will), trips to south downtown will probably take longer. What a joke.

    2. Columbia is a very short walk from the government offices and Pioneer Square. For the IDS and stadiums, riders should drop into the tunnel from the 3rd and Pine/Pike stop. The faster trip through the tunnel will likely make up for the time it takes to go down there.

      1. Just rush hour-related congestion instead!

        And stadium-related congestion in the tunnel.

        Only in Seattle could a “quick transfer” to traverse a linear downtown potentially add 15-20 minutes to your trip.

  2. Elminating the RFA doesn’t affect monthly passholders (unless service gets gummed up).

    I continue to think that Metro does a serious disservice to King County residents who don’t commute by bus (and therefore don’t have a monthly pass) by not offering them a daypass.

    Not only would creating a daypss moderate the effect of eliminating the RFA for the non-pass-holders, it could provide the impetus to get rid of paper transfers (replaced by the daypass) and potentially to rationalize the fares and transfer policies between Metro and Sound Transit.

    1. Let’s put things in perspective.

      A large jar of Adams peanut butter now costs $10(QFC).

      Parking can go as high as $0 or $50 on some gamedays in downtown.

      Gas is $4.00, double what it was a few years ago.

      If you eat lunch out you’ll notice most specials went from $5 to $10 even at the cheap places.

      So hitting people up for $2.50 for a bus ride is no crime because that is like $1.25 in inflated dollars.

      1. The $2 option remains on Link. This an example of good pricing incentivization.

        There will also be a circulator downtown, that will be free to ride.

        Does the free Kent Shoppers’ Shuttle still exist?

      2. I’d have to double check, but I think during the peak (and maybe off-peak too), the monorail is actually 25-50 cents cheaper than the bus for those that don’t already have bus passes.

      3. The monorail is $2.25. So yes, during peak it’s 25 cents cheaper than Metro.

      4. routes 914 and 916 (shopper shuttle in Kent) still exist and are still free thanks to funding from the city. If you have a pass or can afford to pay its probably better to ride regular service instead. Issaquah also has a free service similar to Kent’s.

    2. Getting rid of paper transfers would go a long way to help smoothe downtown bus flow. If anyone on the county council who has defended them opens their mouth to blame other county councilmembers for the gum-up because those others pushed for the end of the RFA, I will just have to scream. (And one more time, Hallelujah for the end of Pay-after-you-shove-to-the exit!! and all the time that wasted out of riders lives, and all the discomfort that caused riders) The impending gum-up is a politically, logistically, and cheaply solved problem, for which politics is by far the major hurdle, and those blocking the solutions are primarily Democrats.

      If day passes were to be made available, they would require purchase at a TVM (not useful for day commuters, and moreover almost certainly priced to cost more than two single trips), purchase from an operator using cash (counterproductive), or implementation as an uncut transfer slip (meaning transfer slips would never go away — exremely counterproductive).

      Or is there some other method of implementation you had in mind that actually has relevance to helping day commuters?

      Day passes would be wonderful for tourists, and for lots of travelers on this blog, but that’s a rather small target market considering the immensity of the impending problem that requires much more widely-targetted solutions. At least day passes made available at TVMs are convenient for tourists, and (if the card itself weren’t the most expensive in the country) would encourage lots of tourists to travel car-free. It ought to happen some day. There are much higher priorities that need tending to, though.

      One of those higher priorities is making free ORCA available indefinitely (but “for a limited time” ;) somewhere downtown, rather than a handful of places in the middle of nowhere, with a miminum fare load. If ORCA continues to cost $5, that itself may be the largest cause of the gum-up, and, btw, moots the utility of day passes for tourists, making the day-pass useful to practically nobody except people who live next to train stations.

      1. Even people who have used the bus literally hundreds of times could not get the concept of pay when you _leave_ downtown. At least these people won’t look quite so stupid. Then again when people try to pull the signal cord off their brackets and not being able to realize that someone else before them signaled will still prevail. Some people are just on auto-pilot and don’t want to use their brains.

      2. The daypass can be implemented numerous ways. Drivers and TVMs could sell them. They could be a cheap paper RFID card that can be scanned by ORCA (and fare enforcement readers). Or just a sight pass on slightly higher quality paper.

        Or they could be limited to ORCA cards – either purchased/loaded at a TVM or online the day before.

        The daypass can make it plausible to eliminate paper transfers and can speed up boarding.

        And yeah, some of us don’t want to spend $2.50 to ride a mile downtown that we can walk in 20 minutes. You’re welcome to put an extra $2.50 into the fare box whenever you want, but don’t spend other people’s money. Removing the RFA does penalize county residents, who are taxpayers taxpayers and voters, who can’t use transit often enough to justify a monthly pass, but do want to use it on the days they come downtown. It’s a legitimate subset of the transit market that is directly impacted by this change.

      3. Seems like the easiest way to implement a day pass is simply to have a daily fare cap on the electronic fare media (in our case, ORCA). Say $5 from 6am-4am (to keep people from using it for the next morning’s commute). I believe Oyster developed the intellectual property, and would hope it’s available for licensing to other transit agencies.

      4. Given that other systems using the same fare media as ORCA sell the cards for much less I doubt ORCA requires such a high fee for cost recovery.

        If MARTA can sell the same fare media for $1 there is no reason ours should be any more expensive.

        I agree we need more TVMs and more locations one can buy an ORCA card.

        Perhaps there are cheaper solutions for ORCA vending machines than the current ones if the machines don’t also have to handle printing paper tickets.

        Also printing paper transfers has a cost as does the fare evasion they lead to. How many TVMS would not having to print transfers and reduced cash handling pay for? How many TVMS would getting ORCA cards into the hands of the change fumblers pay for?

      5. “Even people who have used the bus literally hundreds of times could not get the concept of pay when you _leave_ downtown.”

        Originally the RFA was 24 hours, and I never had a problem remembering to pay on the non-downtown side, or on entry on a non-downtown route. But now that the payment location changes based on time of day, it keeps throwing me off and I either end up paying twice or walking on/off without paying until the driver reminds me. (I have a pass so it’s no difference to Metro’s finances either way.) So good riddance to the RFA!

    3. A few things I noticed while in Atlanta:
      1. The only way to get a ticket for a train was by buying a BREEZE card (same vendor as ORCA I believe)
      2. BREEZE cards cost $1, I believe the fee was waived if you bought a 30-day pass.
      3. The only way to transfer either bus to bus or between train and bus was by using a BREEZE card.
      4. MARTA offered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 day passes along with 30 day passes not tied to the 1st of the month.

      There is really no reason we can’t do any of this except inertia.

      1. Cubic is the vendor for the breeze card. They also are the vendor for los Angeles metro’s TAP card and san diego’s compass card. ERG is the vendor for orca. That aside, i completely agree there’s little stopping the implementation of 1, 2, and 3 day passes as well as monthly passes (not tied to the 1st) from being sold. Lets let our local agencies know about our thoughts on this issue.

      2. The BREEZE system was annoyingly complex when I was in Atlanta, but it’s been simplified according to the website. Around 2009, there was a cheaper ticket and a more expensive card. I think the ticket was $2.50. The ticket had an e-purse and could be reloaded, but would stop working after a few months. What I didn’t know when I bought the ticket was, if you got the round-trip ticket (instead of the one-way ticket), it could only be reloaded with round trips. I ended up making an unplanned trip and then needed a one-way to the airport. The agent said with my card I could only buy a round trip. WTF?! I don’t remember if I bought a round trip or a single-ride ticket. Now BREEZE tickets don’t exist any more and the cards are $1. Good.

  3. Last night there were both a Mariners game and a Sounders game. I noticed that the S. Bellevue P&R Ride was quite full. I wonder how 30-minute frequency on the 550 was able to deal with post-game traffic. Does ST have extra buses on standby after events? I imagine 2-car Link trains did fine.

    1. Sound Transit schedules “Overflow Trippers” for events like this. Sadly, nobody communicates how these work so when you get left behind at IDS, you have no knowledge that there is likely another 550 (or two) about to run through the tunnel. The drivers of the regularly scheduled 550s I have spoken with don’t even know about the overflow trippers so they have no information to pass onto waiting customers.

      The whole situation appears to designed to passively discourage people from taking the bus to/from special events but to try and mitigate the impacts to those brave souls that do.

      The pages on Sound Transit’s web site for the Mariners, Sounders FC, Seahawks aren’t much help. They’ll tell you about special Sounders trains, if available, what bus routes go to the Stadiums, and about Link but no information about what service is like during post-game events. Putting language on these pages that tells customers that post-game buses will be full but that Sound Transit will have extra buses on hand.

      You can also insert my previous rants about pre-paid fare media and off-bus payment here. Post-game fare payment, especially at IDS, is a circus of “how much is it?” and an endless stream of $1 bills and change clogging the fare box that makes me cringe just thinking about it. Many drivers give up and just open the back door which creates a whole set of other problems.

      1. Does Metro operate such overflow buses after events, too? Like the 255 to S. Kirkland or the 41 to Northgate? The information is definitely not published or readily available.

      2. The problem here is that scheduling additional buses for post-game travel is actually more expensive than it seems, as every trip require both a deadhead into downtown and 20-30 minutes of idling while change fumblers board the bus. We do recoup a lot of the cost through fare revenue, as there’s a lot of occasional transit users on game nights that don’t already have passes.

        But even if fares pay for 50% of the operating costs of these extra trips, 50% is not 100% and if there’s not money in the budget to pay the other 50%, those trips don’t happen.

        By passively encouraging people not to take the bus on game days, ST reduces the number of extra buses it has to run to get everyone home without people screaming at them, thereby saving money. Of course, they can’t go out and directly say “hey everyone, our buses only have enough capacity to get a tiny percentage of the game patrons home, so if you have a car, please drive it to and from the game so your seat on the bus can be available for someone else.”, but that’s still the message they want to convey.

        Link will solve a lot of these problems, in that trains can carry far more passengers per driver than a bus can, so the cost per passenger of additional unscheduled game day trips is a lot less.

    2. Since most game nights are scheduled well in advance, it would be nice to put the extra service (without necessarily specifying times) into the schedule, and make it part of the pick, if it isn’t already. Sure, working game nights makes for a sucky pick schedule for junior drivers, but at least then they’d know the choppy schedule well ahead of time, and a lot of overtime would probably be saved.

      1. If the times were specified, people would be able to use mobile devices to see that another ___ bus is coming after the crush loaded one departs without them.

      2. That generally works for soccer (which in this instance was the biggest crush load, even though my 26 heading north after the M’s game was SRO), but baseball and football (and basketball and hockey if they ever come) are not distinguished for having set finish times for their games.

    Opportunity knocks in mysterious ways, so before you dismiss this as rail bashing, read on with a critical thinking cap on. 2000 was such a year for Sound Transit’s HCT project when it became clear the costs were higher and funding inadequate to support the full buildout of Sound Move by 2006. Scaling back the scope of project and increasing budget and timeline were all measures taken to right the ship.
    Since then, major developments in the region have occurred, mostly due to the recession hitting hard about the time ST2 was being passed. Most significant were the funding shortages being experienced by all our local transit agencies, including Sound Transit, which effect both capital projects and daily operations.
    Our transit services and ridership have been relatively flat the last 4 years, yet our region continues to grow, and will well into the future. This only erodes previous gains made in transits mode share of all trips in the region. I think now is the perfect time to assess how Link is doing, where it is likely to end up in 2030 and beyond, and whether we should be thinking about opportunities now, before they are lost.
    Let’s start with a quick recap of ridership projections. ST2 planning (lines, stations, frequencies) are all based on modeling projections using pre-recession data and economic forecasts. Those results drove conclusions in Alternative Analysis and continue to drive lots of decisions in future years, hence, if they need correction it seems prudent to do so in a timely fashion, so that adjustments have a chance of succeeding.
    “How full is the DSTT?” has sparked endless debate here (more on that later), but planning assumptions made long ago, now keep driving the decision making processes – rightly or wrongly.
    Initial Segment & Airport Link were scheduled to have about 36,000 daily boardings by this time according to planning documents but is averaging under 26,000 into its 4th year of operation. That’s only 70% of projected. Likewise, ST2 Link ridership is pegged at 88.5 million boardings per year in 2030, or about 290,000 per weekday. If the 70% figure is closer to the mark, that would yield 203,000 daily boardings on full buildout, which is closer to recent modeling completed by PSRC in Vision 2040.
    Here’s an example; Lynnwood Link assumes all I-5 express service will be truncated at the Lynnwood TC (about 7,500 boardings per day from scoping docs), and that new transit riders in the same segment will total 7,500, for a total of 15,000 daily boardings at one station. What if they all don’t materialize, given that only 500 additional parking spaces are planned at LTC? The demand for rail in that corridor will be much less. That’s just one station of the 20 left to be build out of 33 total. The point is this, should ridership that drives most everything else be revisited, and will other opportunities emerge as a result of that analysis?
    The two biggest opportunities on the horizon I see are:
    1. Accepting the fact that Link will not be cheaper per ride than some of our current bus routes within Link corridors, and therefore should not force a transfer to it for the sake of fulfilling ridership claims. It should focus on farebox recovery and efficient use of resources, regardless of the mode. Linked trips are fine when there is something in it for both riders (speed and reliability) and transit (more efficient use of resources). If either or both lose, then it makes little sense to do it. Operating scenarios and funding for Link were based on train length, speed, frequency, ridership and farebox recoveries of 42%. If costs per rider are significantly more, then it’s time to re-evaluate moving riders onto buses that may not have all the bells and whistles of a train, but do move bodies at lower unit costs than some rail lines. North Sounder is a good example of this where buses to Link would be vastly cheaper and just as quick to commuters’ final destinations.
    2. Accepting the likelihood that ample capacity will exist in the DSTT for another line from Ballard to W.Seattle. ST has documented that 2 minute headways and 800 passengers per train is the upper end limit on capacity in the tunnel, or 24,000 riders in the peak hour/peak direction. That equates to about 1/3 million riders per day per direction or about ½ million system wide, or 150 million annual riders. Compare that with the 88.5 million riders per year in the ST2 System plan in 2030, or my guesstimate of 62 million based on ridership being about 70% or less of current plans keeping in mind that Link will just break 8 million this year, and ULink will push that to about 18 million in 2017. Clearly, there is plenty of room for more trains in the DSTT in either case – maybe double or triple the current thinking. If you had to duplicate the segment from Westlake to Sodo, how much would that cost in terms of capital and the inconvenience to riders lost having to walk between stations for a simple transfer?
    Making the case for either 1 or 2 should be made in a separate post, as this is getting much longer than I had planned for an open comment. But the whole point is this, you can’t consider doing 1, 2, or ?, unless you are willing to consider the assumptions made in the past are no longer reliable enough to continue on ‘as-is’. Should the models be re-calibrated? I think so, and they will probably fall more closely inline with recent data generated by our local transportation planning agency, the PSRC?
    Thanks for listening and thoughtful comments to follow.

    1. In my brief research on the topic, I have found that 2 minute headways can be achieved in the tunnel, so long as the junctions where lines diverge are handled correctly (i.e. northbound train heading to Ballard not having to cross the southbound tracks coming from U-District). Can someone with more experience or engineering knowledge shed some light on this?

      1. Scott: Having grade-separated, or “flying” junctions, will always make things somewhat easier than not having them. However, at-grade crossings are perfectly commonplace on surface transit or in tunnels the world over; trains can cross and clear in a matter of seconds using any signaling system built in the last 70 years.

        Just try telling Brussels — or Chicago — that the constant grade crossings they practice every day at high-volume merge points are some kind of fiction!

        [mic: Traveling, and not up to replying extensively on an iPhone. Good luck!]

      2. So then, it would seem that 2 minute headways could be easily achieved in the existing tunnel, meaning that routes to Ballard, West Seattle, or any other destination can be done without having to dig another tunnel downtown, or spending too much money on the track junctions.

        Another question for those who have more engineering knowledge.. it seems to me that a more cost effective way to get link to Ballard is to have it diverge from central link at University Street Station and continue through Belltown and to the west of Seattle Center, exiting a tunnel extension somewhere on Elliot Ave en route to Ballard. I am in no way suggesting that it is the best way, but wondering if it is possible and what the pros/cons are compared to other options.

      3. Breaking into the tunnel in the very tight curve between Univ and Westlake is posible at great expense and downtime for all tunnel traffic, but why do it when you have a rail ready station at CPS and existing wye. For what little extra distance you traveling (1/3 mi) you get an extra stop in the middle of no-riders-land of Westlake and Broadway. That’s a ton of high rises and apartment buildings, or ‘A transit rich environment’.
        To me it’s a hell of a bargain.

      4. “Just try telling Brussels — or Chicago — that the constant grade crossings they practice every day at high-volume merge points are some kind of fiction!”

        Chicago is (A) heavy rail, and (B) built a hundred years ago when technology was different. I don’t know what kind of system Brussels has. But are they really directly comparable to light rail?

      5. Mike, the only thing that makes Link “light rail” instead of “heavy rail” is the freaking name. It’s a subway line in every fashion. There is nothing substantively different about Link, or about the rail technology in general, that sets it apart.

        Stop thinking Seattle is some special little cocoon. It isn’t.

      6. If anything, you would expect Chicago’s 4-6 car heavy-rail trains to cause MORE trouble and delay when grade crossing the corners of the Loop.

        Except that it doesn’t.

        Brussels, meanwhile, looks like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez8JtYvvlts

        Look at those multi-minute delays between the crossing trains!

        (My favorite part is when the subtitle describes the crossing as “relatively slow”. Meanwhile, the train it refers to is just flooring it through that curve about 15 times faster than Link drivers will go on tunnel straightaways.)

      7. It really comes down to frequency. The highest-frequency line in the Chicago Loop, the Brown Line, operates every 3-9 minutes during peak. The others operate between 7 and 13 minutes apart.

        If we were running trains to Northgate every 3 minutes, interlining a Ballard line with level junctions would be problematic. But I have a hard time believing such frequency would be warranted anytime soon.

        By my back-of-a-napkin estimates (assuming 60-foot buses carrying 80 passengers, 150 passengers per Link car), 4-car Link trains on 5 minute headways would provide at least double the capacity currently provided by the 41/71/72/73/66/511/4xx and still leave ample room for Ballard trains.

      8. On top of that, Matt, it’s worth noting that the Green, Pink, Brown, and Purple Lines ALL criss-cross each other’s tracks at the northwest corner of the Loop, as well as merging in and out of the Orange Line through-circuit tracks.

        So it’s a 4-way intersection, for the sake of carrying 5 high-frequency full-length heavy rail lines through a single downtown segment.

        We’re talking about ONE merger here! On never-gonna-have-Chicago-volumes-so-stop-dreaming Link!

    2. ” I think now is the perfect time to assess how Link is doing”

      Not really. Link doesn’t even go to North Seattle yet. Lots more people in North Seattle will ride Link to the airport if it can be done without the choice of a 45 minute-long bus ride or a $20 taxi fare to get downtown.

      ” Accepting the fact that Link will not be cheaper per ride than some of our current bus routes within Link corridors, and therefore should not force a transfer to it for the sake of fulfilling ridership claims.”

      I think you are confusing total amortized cost per passenger with marginal cost per passenger. Yes, the total operating cost of Link today, divided by the number of passengers served comes out to around $7 per boarding. But each additional person that boards the train does not cost Sound Transit an additional $7 – rather, it costs Sound Transit absolutely nothing, and actually gains Sound Transit revenue when the passenger pays the fare.

      So, suppose you have a bus that duplicates Link and want to decide whether to truncate it or not. Because of the large capacity of rail compared to buses, moving all the people from the bus onto the train has zero marginal costs, yet it saves the entire cost of operating the bus. So, truncating bus routes is not just a ploy to increase Link ridership – it’s about eliminating useless redundancy and making the system more efficient.

      ” If costs per rider are significantly more, then it’s time to re-evaluate moving riders onto buses that may not have all the bells and whistles of a train, but do move bodies at lower unit costs than some rail lines.”

      Quality of service is worth something here and cannot be discounted. The typical bus takes at least 15 minutes just to get from the Stewart St. exit ramp to the center of downtown. Link gets you into and out of downtown extremely quickly at all times of day. The superior service quality is worth something, even if it costs a little more.

      You also can’t assume that the cost per rider now is what it will always be. The cost to operate a train is largely fixed, regardless of how many people ride it. If ridership grows with time, the cost per rider will go down. Buses, however, fill up a lot faster than trains, so when ridership goes up, you have to keep running more buses to fulfill the capacity – the cost per rider on routes like 41 is pretty much as low today as it can ever hope to get.

      I do agree that the North Sounder is a different story than Link because the cost per train is so much higher and the potential for increased ridership so much lower. Also, except for Edmonds and Multikteo, which have very limited ridership, we have a train that offers a slower rider than the bus. Not the case for Link, which will connect Lynnwood, Northgate, the U-district, and downtown much faster than a bus.

      So, I do support replacing the North Sounder with buses (and eventually Link), redeploying the trainsets into the South Sounder. The savings could be used for any number of purposes, such as running more buses or contributing towards the capitol cost of extending Link to Everett. But, I do not agree with your claim that Link is the boondoggle that the north Sounder is. It’s vastly more useful for far more people than Sounder is.

      1. @ Kyle:
        If we wait until Univ Link is finished, late 2016, then give it at least a year to measure ridership we’re into 2018. That’s too long to see ‘hows it going?’.
        At what point do you convert from cost per rider, to free, because the trains are running anyway. Nah, you have to count noses and divide into operating cost. That’s just how it works.
        I agree with your quality of service statement. I tend to look at door to door times, then add in something for the better ride.
        I think we mostly agree on things.

      2. What was the “drivership” of I-5 three years after it opened, especially if only select segments of it were open? I doubt it was anywhere near as much as whatever it is today.

    3. It will be logistically impossible to move that many trains through the 3rd Avenue Subway IF northward trains to Ballard are having to cross southward trains from Northgate under 3rd and Pine. For safety reasons, this will slow all traffic in the Subway by many minutes as trains slow to dance through that level crossing. The alternative? Spend all the money mic is talking about saving on a flyunder at 3rd and Pine. Nonsense.

      1. Again… Chicago, Boston, Brussels and who knows how many other global cities would like to have a word with you about your definition of “minutes”. 15-20 seconds does not equal “minutes”.

        p.s. The junction already exists, it’s under Pine and approximately 8th, and we already use it. Have you ever waited “minutes” for a train to cross your bus’s path, even though our current system (unnecessarily) starts ringing the bells before the driver even turns the train on?

      2. And even if we did build a “flyunder”, you think it would cost as much as a full mile of downtown tunneling plus four new stations because why?

      3. To state the obvious. How many NB Metro buses cross in front of SB Link trains at the junction we’re talking about? Last time I checked it was 55 per hour. Trains are longer than a bus, but we’re not talking about coal trains running through the switch. Think about it.

    4. The debate over “forced” transfers from suburban buses to Link is more a value judgement and a political decision than a decision that can be made purely on costing the options out. Riders on some of the suburban commuter routes (101, 102, 143, 150, 161) have a forced bypass of Link and a forced transfer downtown. It is helpful when debating Link numbers to point out some modeling assumptions, such as that Metro would have saved money by truncating the above routes at Rainier Beach Station.

      ST knew their original projections wouldn’t be met because Metro didn’t take the actions that were part of the modeling assumptions. And so, before rolling out service on Link, they scaled back from the planned 6-minute peak headways to 7.5-minute headways. Clearly, they knew what they were doing, and corrected course.

      Now, those suburban buses may be the tipping point between tolerable congestion and traffic meltdown. ST can’t correct course without Metro also correcting course. But both have ways to be part of the solution, together.

      First, get rid of the dang $5 charge that is keeping riders from getting ORCA. Don’t give me that line about CT, ET, KT, PT, and WSF blocking it, when they aren’t.

      Second, get those stub tracks beyond Westlake extended so that four-car trains can be used, and the option of turning more suburban routes into feeder buses for Link becomes available.

      Third, proceed to use those four-car trains, with probably 10-minute headway, which would make it easier to have a schedule and to make smoothe connections with the suburban feeder buses. The 7.5-minute headway, with trains that only use half the platform space, is most certainly a contributing factor to DSTT and 3rd Ave congestion. And now, the difference in congestion between the 7.5- and 10-minute headway probably means that the average wait+travel time is shorter using 10-minute headway.

      Fourth, Metro ought to be bold and make those decisions that add a transfer and a small amount of extra travel time to some commuters, for the sake of the many other commuters stuck in traffic jams because the DSTT and 3rd Ave are beyond capacity.

      Fifth, Metro, please, please, please get rid of paper transfers ASAP, so that the bus capacity in the DSTT and on 3rd Ave can increase.

      1. Thank you Brent for a well thought out reply.
        I agree the south end routes should be truncated to Link, but Henderson is a bad place to do it. Intercepting both I-5 and I-405 buses at SR599/S.133rd St accomplishes the same thing sooner. This was initially part of the route as an in-fill station but somehow got dropped when they built the guideways. Combine that with an HOV flyover ramp from NB I5 to avoid the crawling lights to Interurban and the this could rival Lynnwood as the south end hub of a decent trunk line. PT and Fed Way routes now become better, even with the time lost going down MLK. Plus a shuttle to South Center is very lucrative.
        Keep up the good thoughts!

      2. SR599/133rd St. would be a stop in the middle of nowhere that would serve no purpose except as a place to make bus/train connections. Henderson at least has some stuff you can walk to around there. Also, The 101 is already going down MLK anyway, so it would easily be truncated to Henderson. To reach your station, the 101 would have to detour out of the way.

      3. Sorry, but no, Henderson save for 1 food destination, 1 “steal money from the poor by renting TV’s and appliances to them”, does not have anything to walk around to unless you want to walk all the way to Rainier. And I’ll say it. The area is particularly dicey especially at night. Further it would actually increase the total commute time for the truncation for the several of these routes to be at Henderson. The only routes that would make sense to terminate at Henderson might be the 106 but that is only if the portion of Beacon Hill, Georgetown and SODO it serves is replaced.

        As for SR599/S 133rd, there are a number of employer destinations in that immediate vicinity as well as some destinations that consumers might wish to visit including the headquarters of BECU. Additional commuter connections to employers all up and down the Duwamish corridor could be made efficiently from this station. I’m ok with the idea of a transfer point in the “middle of nowhere” as long as it is safe and serves its purpose well. What I’d really prefer is an intermodal station that also included Sounder at Boeing Access Road.

      4. There is a chicken-and-egg aspect to Rainier Beach Station: If several bus routes transferred there, then businesses would appear around that station that catered to the captive market, maybe not immediately, but over time.

        At any rate, October 1 may force the issue onto the table.

      5. There are three issues with a transfer at Henderson: 1) speed, 2) operational factors around the station, and 3) safety.

        Because Central Link is a local line serving the Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill, and doesn’t travel directly, the Henderson transfer would be much slower than the current downtown express routes. That would cost you major ridership.

        As of right now, there is no room on either Henderson or MLK for multiple buses to load a full load of passengers. You would have to considerably reconfigure either Henderson or MLK next to the station. It wasn’t planned as a high-volume transfer station; the only transfers are relatively low-volume ones to the 106 and 107.

        And I concur (as someone who lives about half a mile away) that Henderson is currently a dodgy place, and not somewhere people are going to want to transfer in the dark. I’d much rather make a bus transfer in the dark at Othello than Henderson.

      6. 1) We’ve gone over how rolling service hours saved on a truncated route into more frequency on that route can reduce average wait+travel time. The 101 frequency could conceivably be doubled, since it would be a pretty short route (travel-time-wise).

        We’ve also gone over how through-routing the 169 with the 101 could turn a lot of two-bus rides into bus+train rides.

        What we don’t yet know is how much extra time each run of the 101 will spend in the Central Business District starting October 1.

        2) Metro builds bus zones all the time. That isn’t a serious difficulty. Nor do I buy claims that have been made that traffic congestion is a serious issue around RBS. Gridlock on I-5, however, is a daily occurence.

        3) The reality of Othello Station is that a man was murdered close to there earlier this year.

        In the case of buses starting at RBS, there wouldn’t be much of a wait by the station, as the buses would already be there, waiting for their transferring train. In the case of catching the train, I can’t imagine a safer place to wait than a train station, with all its surveillance. Crooks target people away from the station, not at the station.

      7. Brent, on 2) it’s not just a matter of “building a bus zone.” It’s a matter of laying down a lot of pavement. Right now, all of the space on both Henderson and MLK is in use. There is nowhere to store several waiting buses anywhere within one long block of the station that wouldn’t block traffic.

        And on 3), a murder doesn’t tell you much, because almost all murders in the area are gang-related, and not directed at the general public. You are much more likely to be mugged and harassed at Henderson than at Othello.

        The general idea of getting people onto Link is sound, but we’ll need a transfer point at either Renton or Southcenter. Henderson is just not a good place for it.

      8. Im baffled how Martin can draw that conclussion from the link he posted. 4 comments out of 46 on the actual subject is hardly enough evidence to make that statement. Most of the post rambled on about FHSC and the 8.
        If 133rd is so bad, then why is Lynnwood so good?
        Both are next to I-5, both have ample car and equivalent bus traffic inbound on the interstate, both are anchors on either end of Seattle proper and neither is built.
        LTC to downtown Seattle will be 24 minutes. 133rd to downtown about 28 minutes.
        Are you suggesting we don’t build LTC for all the same reasons?

      9. David,

        We already have transfer points at Renton and Southcenter to the 101 and 150. You tell me these and Othello (with its string of thefts around the station) are safer transfer points without any evidence. If the price of creating a feeling of safety at Henderson Station is hiring a security patrol guy to hang out at the station for a few months until people get over the feeling of paranoia, so be it.

        You also tell me there is nothing around Henderson Station (the name that should have been used at RBS, I agree), but that all the space is being used. Building a little layover space is cheap there, at least right now. Building stations at Southcenter, Renton, and 133rd would cost billions.

      10. mic,

        I have no idea what you’re referring to. There is absolutely no reference to FHSC or the 8 in the post. Why are off-topic comments in any way relevant to my argument?

        I don’t argue that 133rd is “so bad” — I argue that it’s no significant improvement over Rainier Beach. Those are logically different assertions.

        Your question about Lynnwood is out to lunch. All of North Link will be grade separated, the competition on I-5 is much more congested, and overall it will be much more competitive with existing bus service. LTC to DT Seattle is 30 minutes or more on the bus right now, with fewer Seattle destinations and worse headways. So 24 minutes is an improvement in speed, reliability, and everything else. Not so at 133rd. For someone who posts wall-of-text FUD about North Link in nearly every open thread, it’s astounding that you aren’t aware of that.

      11. Martin says: “There is absolutely no reference to FHSC or the 8 in the post.”
        Read the comments by Johny, Kyle S, Tim and Mike Orr. Just saying.
        Several comments were in favor of the idea of 133rd.
        Transit person and eddiew.
        It’s only FUD because you say it is. I beg to differ, but it’s your Blog, so just say the word and I’ll beg off from further comments.
        Your call.

      12. Do you honestly think I was referring to the comment thread when I posted that link? Please engage with the argument I present there, rather than spewing irrelevancies about the comments.

        So do you accept that LTC is a much stronger case?

      13. One thing that could be done to improve people’s comfort at making bus->train connections after dark is to establish a notion of a “timed connection”. This means, instead of each bus leaving Ranier Beach at some fixed, but arbitrary time, you instead have the bus leave Ranier Beach when the first train that left Westlake after some fixed, abitrary time gets to Ranier Beach. This way, you would have a written guarantee that if you are in Westlake Station at a particular time, waiting for a train, a bus at Ranier Beach will be waiting for you as soon as you arrive, allowing you to literally hop off the train and right on the bus, with no waiting.

    5. “2000 … funding inadequate to support the full buildout of Sound Move by 2006. Scaling back the scope of project and increasing budget and timeline were all measures taken to right the ship.”

      And the same thing is happening on ST2. The Redondo station is deferred, and the North Link and East Link extensions are opening a year late. If the Lynnwood extension runs into future financial problems, it will be delayed too. In the meantime, there’s no reason to take from the emerging regional backbone to fund something else. If it’s not affordable, ST will scale back. If it is affordable, full steam ahead.

      “Our transit services and ridership have been relatively flat the last 4 years, yet our region continues to grow”

      Ridership has mostly been growing, with exceptions on a few routes at certain times. We need to plan at least some spare capacity in case people decide to drive less in the future. The biggest reason people drive is because transit doesn’t go where they’re going, when they’re going. Link can’t absorb all trips but it can at least absorb trips in its corridor, with a lot better schedule than the buses currently give. Better to have excess capacity than the chronic undercapacity that has cemented people’s resolution to their cars.

      “only 500 additional parking spaces are planned at LTC?”

      That’s CT’s job to provide a lot better feeder routes. The important thing is to get the trunk like running, then we can adjust things around it. Parking at 220th or Mountlake Terrace could be expanded if it’s easier than at Lynnwood. The main transit function of Lynnwood TC is a major transfer point and urban-village destination. Park n riders can go to other stations.

      “Accepting the fact that Link will not be cheaper per ride than some of our current bus routes within Link corridors, and therefore should not force a transfer to it for the sake of fulfilling ridership claims.”

      Some cases are borderline, like the 150, 101, and 7. But Lynnwood and MT are not borderline; they’re the perfect distance to force a transfer.

      “North Sounder is a good example of this where buses to Link would be vastly cheaper and just as quick to commuters’ final destinations.”

      I agree. It’s mainly a political issue. Snoho residents and ST are convinced that Sounder North is worthwhile. Come back to us when you can convince an ST boardmember to bring it up to the board. Otherwise it’s futile to rail against (pun unintended).

      1. “The main transit function of Lynnwood TC is a major transfer point and urban-village destination. Park n riders can go to other stations.”

        Seen in that light, the South Bellevue station may be a good thing in disguise. It has kept park n riders out of downtown Bellevue, meaning no extra garages or lanes to the freeway. Bellevue TC is the closest to an ideal transit center as there is in Pugetopolis. Northgate TC and Renton TC could not escape parking garages, while Federal Way TC is all about parking and its walkshed is minimal.

    6. The fact that Central Link ridership is at 70% of projections really tells you nothing about how far off ridership projections for the rest of the system will be. I’ll agree the projections for Northgate to Lynnwood seem a bit optimistic.

      The ridership estimates for East link are probably a bit high too, though much depends on the exact location of the Downtown Bellevue station and entrances along with what Metro does once East Link opens.

      As for Downtown to Montlake, then Northgate I think ridership could very well exceed ST estimates even if Metro decides to be stupid and only make minimal service changes once Link opens. There is huge pent-up transit demand in North Seattle. Many people aren’t riding the bus now because it is: a) slow, b) crowded, c) unreliable, or d) infrequent. Add to that the very real rail-bias many people have and I think you’ll find a lot of people riding U-Link and North Link.

      1. Which is exactly why we should lock ST/PSRC/FTA in a room telling them not to come out until they agree on an answer based on current trends and common assumptions. 200% error rates on predictions doesn’t make me feel warm and cozy when deciding the fate of transit 10-20 years down the road.

  5. Prediction. The C and D lines will become knows as the free ride bus for short trips within downtown. With its enter-through-any-door policy, and my guess that fare enforcement officers will choose to do most of their work on those portions of the route that are outside of downtown, people will quickly learn that RapidRide is how you get around downtown for free.

    1. I would agree with you if the lines served the area most people who would ride the free bus want to go. For example, towards WS, there’s only 3 stops (Pike, Seneca, and Columbia/1st). It completely misses the southern part of DT/PS.

    2. I think that’s a good point.

      Unless enforcing the inspection process adds ZERO seconds to the downtown portion of the bus ride, it seems like it would waste of a lot of people’s time to spend all the extra seconds needed to accost and punish riders who didn’t pay (or whose off-bus payment didn’t register) while the bus is trying to negotiate the stoplights and traffic in the formerly-RFA part of town.

      It seems to me that if they don’t want the inspections to wind up delaying the trip by a few minutes, it would be best to do them when there’s at least a few blocks bewtweenbusy stops. Or limit the inspections to buses that that aren’t remotely close to being full.

      Also – and this is sorta off that subject – but will there be apps available to help spot and track the transit inspectors? For those folks who want a free ride, that might be a lot more convenient than hoarding transfers.

      1. “Unless enforcing the inspection process adds ZERO seconds to the downtown portion of the bus ride”

        Fare inspection on RapidRide occurs as the bus is moving and is generally pretty quick, as long as the bus isn’t packed. I’ve had fare inspectors get on my Southbound RapidRide coach at NE 15th & 156th many times. They are almost always done with inspections by the time I reach NE 10th and the few times they aren’t, somebody is digging their ORCA card or transfer out of a purse or bag.

        B coaches at that point can be pretty full but C & D (and eventually E) are likely to be more crowded in Downtown so inspection might take a bit longer. YMMV

      2. I think fare enforcement officers won’t patrol downtown for reason that, even though it will be a target rich environment, they will find themselves mostly writing tickets to homeless, jobless, and disabled people going just one or two stops.

      3. The fare inspectors on Link enforce downtown quite frequently. Just last week I saw them twice between USS and IDS.

    We’ll never know how the Seattle Monorail’s Green line, canceled in 2005, would have worked out. It was killed by a poor financing plan, queasy elected officials, and a public vote. You can view details of the lines rise and fall here: http://www.seattlemonorail.org/smp/index.html (HT to Bob Fleming for keeping the site up).
    I talked earlier about opportunities lost, and maybe another Green Line to Ballard will remain a dream, or turn into a consolation prize of a streetcar through Fremont, which is the best Seattle can do. Maybe not.
    I propose to utilize the existing CPS station as a rail stop, proceeding under Terry Ave in cut/cover to a portal at Lenora, transitioning to an elevated line to Seattle Center, to at-grade along the east side of the BNSF ROW, under the ship canal and out 15th to 65th on another elevated section – in other words, all grade separated from traffic to make it fast and reliable. Here’s a map of the line with 1/3 mile walksheds outlined in green. Note the red outlines of Link stations at Westlake and CHS with huge pedestrian areas left out. A green line to Ballard would fill much of that need.
    Several key points are worth making, without turning this into a documentary.
    1. Saving 2 billion +/- on a 2nd tunnel under downtown and same platform transfers between lines will increase overall system effectiveness.
    2. 2 minutes headways in the DSTT are feasible. E link has 9 minute headways, and should proceed to Ballard, while S.Link trains should continue to Lynnwood on 6 minute headways. That leaves room for W.Seattle trains to Northgate in future years, all sharing common platforms.
    3. Even if all 94,000 daily boardings of Link north of DSTT remained on the trains through downtown, N. Link could accommodate them all in the peak hour of peak direction with 8.3 trains per hour, or 7.2 minute headways (4 car consists, 200 max load/car). 6 minutes is plenty until demand dictates more frequency, which will still be there.
    3. The Green Line purposely connects the Denny Triangle, S. Lake Union, Amazon, Seattle Center and beyond to Ballard, hitting major activity centers along the way. Fremont has an area 1/10 the size of Lower QA/SLU and has far less density.
    4. Crossing the ship canal in dredge/cover tube segments to accommodate the 30’ draft of larger vessels requires 1/4 the distance of approach ramps than a high level crossing at 150’ clearance. This, combined with at grade along the BNSF are two key cost saving enhancements in addition to getting better utilization out of the existing DSTT.
    If Seattle voters are looking for an excuse to support ST3, then I suggest this is as good an idea as any, and quite feasible from an engineering standpoint. I look forward to constructive criticism.

    1. 1. There are buildings all along the east side of the BNSF ROW. ST would have to buy and raze literally every business on the west side of 15th Ave W. The only real answer to this corridor is center running. Plus it makes building the stop at Dravus much more straightforward.

      2. Why the extra stop in Queen Anne? Is it to cover for the loss of Prospect Street?

      1. 1. Look at Goggle Earth at Dravus St. Count the number of tracks (15), and the number of tracks with cars on them (1). I believe there are only two mains through there, but don’t have my sub-division charts with me. Look at the sidings along the east side of the BNSF ROW and count the number of cars spotted for loading/unloading (0). Maybe it was a slow day along the ROW, but I think ST could purchase a couple of tracks for at-grade running without pissing any of the shippers off. Hell, even they look at the bottom line. Mitigation anyone?

      2. My office actually overlooks that yard. It gets use.

        You still haven’t addressed the need to buy out every business south of the Magnolia Bridge.

      3. I don’t think two stops on either side of Seattle Center is a luxury, more a neccesity for Queen Anne and 5th. I’m not sure what you mean about Prospect. It would make an interesting stop to serve a fundicular up the hill to MT1 ETB at 9th.

      4. @ Kyle: Most of those buildings are using the space in the back for parking. There are other ways to park a car. Running light rail down existing RR ROW’s is the cheapest way to build, and with few if any crossings. It’s worth a hard look before you leap to the conclusion you have to buy everyone out. 30′ gets you two tracks.

      5. 15th between Queen Anne and the ship canal seems like the perfect place for center-running light rail, because most of the cross streets aren’t through streets and the important ones are already grade-separated. Utilizing ROW that the city already owns would help keep the cost down.

      6. On building a second tunnel downtown, that sounds like a terrible idea. First the existing tunnel can carry a lot of extra trains before capacity becomes a problem, including enough for three lines at a very reasonable six minute headway. Second it’s a huge waste of money. If your building another tunnel wouldn’t it be far better to bypass downtown in favor of First Hill? I realize there are some geological concerns, but if the routing was flexible it presumably could be done. First Hill is a destination underserved by HCT. Moreover this line would allow for better transfer opportunities for all other rail and bus lines, something that cannot be said of the second downtown tunnel. As for cost, depending on how far south the line went it may be cheaper to build an extension to First Hill over a second downtown tunnel.

        Linked is an image of what I’m talking about, but I’m hardly set on the semantics as the image suggests.(http://s19.postimage.org/uv03vazrn/First_Hill_Subway.jpg)

    2. You’re ignoring the fact that you don’t want normal weekday trains to be anywhere close to the 200/car capacity. You want to have your normal schedule be able to absorb huge increases in demand that could push it up to that, but on a regular basis 200 people in each Link car would be extremely uncomfortable.

      1. Neither do I. Maximum capacity is stated in many documents citing 24,000 riders per hour, Most of the day, cars would be only at service factors of 1 or 2 times the number of seats. ST shows ‘comfortable loading’ as one seated and one standing, and that’s only during the peaks. Find your maximum load point (currently between IDS and Univ Stn, and divide daily riders by 14 to get maximum expected loads in the peak hour in the peak direction (Link Ops Plan 2008)

      2. There are of course, other alternatives. One is to leave Central Link and East Link alone, and to add a Stadium-Ballard line which would eventually be extended to West Seattle. That would avoid disrupting East Link and fit closer to people’s existing expectations of a westside line.

    3. “2 minutes headways in the DSTT are feasible. E link has 9 minute headways, and should proceed to Ballard, while S.Link trains should continue to Lynnwood on 6 minute headways. That leaves room for W.Seattle trains to Northgate in future years, all sharing common platforms.”

      That’s an intriguing idea. It assures adequate headways on each line, and if needed we could have Stadium-Northgate peak runs until the West Seattle line is built. If the capacity every approaches maximum, we could think about a second tunnel then.

      The main problem is it would change East Link’s service in mid-course. There’s no way this can get built before 2025 or 2030 because ST3 won’t be for a few years. By the time the Ballard segment opens, Redmond-Northgate will already be running. It would break their one-seat ride from the Eastside to north of the Ship Canal if you connect East Link to Ballard. That would have cascading effects on the desirability of Link for Eastside-North Seattle trips, which is already weakened because of the travel time. Should we just give that up as a lost cause, and commit to the 271 and 545 forever? Would Eastside residents tolerate the change, when they’re probably more interested in going to UW, Capitol Hill, and Northgate as they were promised than to Ballard? It’s one thing to add infill stations in Seattle and slightly increase travel times for suburbanites. It’s another thing to completely change a line’s destination.

      1. I would wager there is far more demand between Ballard and the Eastside than there is from Northgate. And westside—Eastside is in far greater need of a non-automobile connection than Northgate—Eastside is.

        Lines change origins and destinations all the time all over the world. People transfer trains all the time all over the world. They can do it here too.

      2. When the new 520 bridge is finished, Overlake to Montlake will be a reliable 10-15 minutes of the 542/545. On Link, the best estimate I saw was something on the order of 40 minutes. Turning a 10 minute bus ride into a 40 minute train ride is not acceptable.

        Now, cutting the 545 when EastLink opens and keeping only the 542 (albeit, with expanded hours to run all day) should be doable. But expecting Link to replace all bus service over 520 except Kirkland routes, no.

      3. I agree with asdf on this one. Most Eastsiders going to UW or north would find buses on 520 to be much faster than Link. So the only stop they would really miss is CHS. The trade off is getting a 1 seat ride to 10 stations to Amazon, Lower QA and Ballard. 10 for 1 is a good trade.

      4. In response to ASDF, 10mins: overlake to montlake is really useful for
        1) those MSFT employees that live in SF zoned montlake
        2) UW residents with internships at MSFT.
        Those sets of people will stay on the bus.
        Since no one lives anywhere near OTC, commutes to UW and the medical center won’t be using the 545/542.

        For everyone else, you have to include the 30+ minute slog down I5 to Stewart.
        I’m not aware of any plans to fix I5 for HOVs.

        Everyone else will happily switch to Link.

      5. The 542 is not just Montlake->Overlake. To get between anywhere in Redmond to anywhere in North Seattle, a bus down 520 to Montlake still beats Link down I-90, unless there’s severe congestion on 520 (which the bus will be able to largely bypass once the new 520 bridge gets built). Even if you’re going, say, Overlake->Northgate, taking the 542 to Montlake and hopping on Link at the UW is still at least 20 faster than taking Link all the way, depending on how long you have to wait for the connection.

        And for those that don’t want to deal with connections, almost anywhere in North Seattle is bikable from the 520/Montlake interchange in under 30 minutes (this is NOT the case for transit connections) and the Burke Gilman trail makes the bike ride between 520/Montlake and Fremont/Ballard very easy.

        I personally live about 2 miles north of Montlake and 520 – about a 10 minute bike ride away down the Burke Gilman. With the 542, I can usually get from home to my office in Redmond door-to-door in about 30 minutes (a trip that would take about an hour by the trip planner which assumes I would have to take a very slow connecting bus for those first 2 miles). If Link were allowed to replace the 542, the 30 minute commute would suddenly turn into a 60-minute commute and I would not be happy about it. Even if the 542 continued to operate during peak hours, like it does today, I would still be quite pissed that if I ever needed to leave work early or stay late, it would take a full hour to get home – a trip which takes about half that time today.

        For trips to downtown Seattle, even capitol hill, absolutely letting Link replace the 545 is the right thing to do. Whatever time is lost by going out of the way will be more than made up by getting into and out of downtown quickly. But for trips between Redmond and North Seattle, the detour is just too much and telling people they have to go 10 miles out of the way to ride transit is not the way to get people to use transit.

    1. How do we know it was Russian and then Ukranian? Sounded like the same lady.

      Still kudos to KC Metro for producing a multi-lingual piece like this. The brain surgeons at LA Metro can’t seem to ever get something like this put together.

      1. It was Russian followed by Ukrainian. It was the same woman speaking, but the orthographies are different. The Ukrainian subtitles have some Ukrainian-specific letters than Russian lacks.

  7. Metro might need another incentive for ORCA cards. Not everyone wants to put forth the initial investment for it, but ORCA cards are important for speed in the RFA-less Seattle. ORCA cards are THE fastest way to board a bus, with maybe the exception sometimes of quickly showing a transfer. On the flipside, there were times when it would have been better if I had not used my ORCA card, like the time I took my little sister to Seattle, and when she paid with cash, they gave her a 4.5 hour transfer!
    So I can tell you that people are not going to run to ORCA unless Metro makes two hour paper transfers strict across the board.

  8. I’m trying to cut Metro some slack, but here it is a week from when my commute-to-work bus gets cancelled, and I can’t get decent information on how I should get to work on 10/1.

    Their message describing the end of my route tells me to do one thing, but their trip planner tells me several versions of something else. One of the suggested trips offers me a new route number and then links to a route map that doesn’t exist. Most of the options suggest my current 20 minute commute should now be a 50-60 minute one, with a connection, and a lot of traveling in the wrong direction.

    Using brute force on the schedules, I think there is probably a solution that works if I ignore the route planner, and it will only probably only double my commute time and include a connection (huddled under a tiny shelter in the winter rain), and on the way back a walk to connect. But, would it have killed Metro to put more work into their route planner for all of us folks trying to figure out what to do now that they’ve killed our route?

    I’ve got an ORCA, and I’ve been paying attention to all the notices for months now, and since I’m not going downtown I don’t even need to know the RFA is going away, but I do. However, the most important info I personally need to know about the big switch in a week is painfully hard to find. It’s hard to suggest people give up their cars when the alternative is this kind of thing.

    1. The Trip Planner is only semi-useful anyway, especially since there’s no way to tell it if you prefer some routes or rail over bus: your itinerary may be in the results or it may not. The new schedules should be out this week on buses and the usual places (Westlake, University Book Store, etc). I checked Westlake Saturday and they weren’t there yet.

      As for your commute problem, you might as well tell us where you’re going from and to. There may be a good alternative or there may not.

    2. I’m going to guess that biggerbox is a 133 rider to the U-district, in which case, he’s going to be completely screwed at least as far as transit goes. If that’s the case, my recommendation would be to look at carpools or vanpools for the short term and a home closer to work for the long term.

      1. Frequency beats direct one seat rides.

        My wife’s commuted from near White Center to the UW for one summer. At first she drove to a P&R and took the 133 direct. But the 133’s limited departures didn’t match her schedule too closely, and soon she had switched to 120+71/2/3. Both routes run at less than 15 minute frequencies all day, less than 10 during pe.ak. About an hour door to door. The 133 gets stuck in traffic, so its not that much better.

      2. The real problem with that trip today is the 71/2/3 part of the trip. Even if the buses are running express mode, both ways, the express lanes are going the wrong the direction, which means the buses have to crawl down Eastlake and wait at all the stoplights. For the afternoon trip on a Mariner’s game night, add traffic on Eastlake and just getting from the U-district to downtown can already take almost an hour, before you even board the 120.

        Link will go along way to making connections through downtown like this faster and more reliable.

    3. I noticed the 29 (was 2E, but now coming from Ballard) doesn’t even have a route map yet. Come on, Metro.

    4. We might be able to help if you would tell us what your trip to work is and when you are coming and going.

    1. Well, there goes the neighborhood. Sounds like Lyynwood gets a chuck of their New Urban City dedicated to a rail yard, just like BelRed has been planned for all along. Conrad should know better.

  9. Britain’s hydrogen fuel infrastructure gets a boost

    The hydrogen fuel station is equipped with solar panels affixed to its roof. These solar panels collect sunlight and are responsible for the generation of electricity that is used to produce hydrogen fuel. The use of solar energy makes the station a truly carbon-neutral facility and puts some of the concerns regarding the energy use of hydrogen production to rest. University officials believe that the country’s hydrogen fuel infrastructure will be prepared for the commercialization of hydrogen-powered vehicles between 2014 and 2016.


    1. Greenwash Mordor and you get Mordor, replete with coal fly ash roads, asphalt, and other toxic dreck.

      Good thing they already have rails (and three times the Passenger-km of rail transport than America, despite having a somewhat smaller landmass) and subways and more-or-less walkable cities, in the event the Hydrogen thing doesn’t pan out or scale up or address the maintenance costs of all the sprawl.

  10. My heavy luggage and I are on the 11:30 bus to central Ballard

    This time next week, such a thing will not be possible.

    Long walks with luggage from a big red half-hourly, or a 40-minute wait for the next hourly #40.

    Genius, this city is.

  11. Again, we are back to fare payment issues with the RFA. I think its time that a regional fare policy was established, that coveres the local agencys and the region wide agencies. Cash Transfers (and Sounder and LINK ticket/transfers) need to be addressed region wide, fare levels and policiys for all modes need to be standardized, ORCA needs a lot of help (Cost+Availability, Daypass, Rear door ORCA readers, Onboard payment, or not (Is this ORCA pylon good for RapidRide only, or regular buses, or link, or what?!?) etc). Our Region’s Transit systems are not going to move forward with all this fragmentation, it confuses riders, and with hard enforcement of the policys it will detur riders (after they get a ticket, get pissed off and swear off our transit systems as too confusing).

  12. Saw this today:

    “Sales-tax revenues grew by 13 percent in Seattle while rising less than 5 percent in the rest of King County between the first quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2012, according to city officials.”

    Thank God for subarea equity!

    “He wants the Metropolitan King County Council to adopt the fee in areas where 250,000 people live — and almost an equal number of vehicles are licensed. A decreasing population in those areas and a tough economy have led to a $50 million shortfall for maintaining rural roads, Constantine said.”

    Is the population in the current unincorporated areas really shrinking, or is it just that the more dense areas are being absorbed by cities?


  13. From the article:

    “The county’s road funds are largely supported by a 25-year-old levy that relies on property taxes in unincorporated areas. But annexations, along with lower property valuations, have decreased the funds.”

    So yes, annexations are part of the reason for the shortfall.

    1. Yeah, annexations are most definitely part of the reason for the shortfall, however I am wondering if the areas that are currently unincorporated KC have actually decreased in population the last couple years. The article makes it seem like that is the case, but I find it hard to believe.

    2. The Finn Hill, North Juanita and Kingsgate neighborhoods were recently annexed by Kirkland moving 31,000 out of unincorporated King County and “into” Kirkland. Bellevue just added 5,000 to it’s population by annexing Eastgate. Woodinville is a city of 11,000 that didn’t exist until 1992. Seatac is 27,000 and incorporated in 1990. Newcastle incorporated 1994 population 10,000. That’s 84,000 that “left” the county that I can think of just off the top of my head. If you live in unincorporated King County you get crappy services and pay higher taxes than in most cities. It’s time to restructure county government so that the Executive position becomes administrative rather than political.

      1. Sammamish is another new city. There are also the big developments Redmond Rdige, Issaquah Highlands and Snoqualmie Ridge which were annexed by their namesake cities. Much of what’s left is outside the urban growth boundary; a couple of major exceptions being White Center and Klahanie.

        A mailer from my councilmember about the county budget brought up another reason for the revenue shortfall, the 1% growth cap on property taxes enacted in 2002.

      2. Sammamish, how could I forget? 47,000 incorporated 1999. Redmond has added 20% to it’s land area and doubled it’s population since 1990 (+28,000). The Panther Lake area added 24,000 to the city of Kent in 2010. I’m sure there’s more that were part of the King County Annexation Initiative; likely close to that 250,000 number. Dow’s crying a river ’cause he doesn’t have any more dollars to spend on ferry boats. The idea that your property taxes can only go up 1% a year is laughable to anyone that actually sees their property tax bill.

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